Where Grace Intercedes {Nameless}

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Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. - ‭‭Luke‬ ‭7:11-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

It’s name meaning “beauty,” Nain lay not too distant from Nazareth, another little village in the region of Galilee. At the town gate, we meet a widow as she leads the funeral procession for her only son, walking his body outside the bounds of their village to be buried. Our introduction to this nameless woman is made by way of her loss. She has lost her husband, and now her only son. She is a woman known by her sorrow. She is not alone in her grieving, but it has named her in a way unlike any other in that procession. 

I can’t help but wonder if the disciples and crowd accompanying Jesus tried to give a wide berth to the widow and her company, wanting to distance themselves from the grieving. Were they discussing Jesus’ recent healing of the centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10)? Or some other event or teaching they had experienced in following Jesus? Regardless, Jesus was not interested in just passing by this widow. 

Where the end seemed inevitable, the outcome decided, hope met the widow unexpectedly; Jesus entered her story.

He went to her, forging a path between the two crowds. He offered her comfort in a simple, tender phrase. Then He touched the bier. Jesus not only saw and acknowledged the widow’s grief, He stopped and tangibly entered into it. The threat of impurity did not impede His compassion nor stall His hand. He was not afraid. His heart moved Him to action, and with a single command the widow’s son spoke, moved, lived! 

In the span of a breath, that which the widow lost was returned. She could remember the past without the twofold weight of heartbreak and dare to look to the future without fear. In resurrecting one life, Jesus restored two. For in those days, a son would take on the role as provider for a widowed mother. Without a husband or a son to care for her, a woman depended entirely on the charity of others as she could inherit no land and had no means of sustaining herself. As a widow, to lose an only son was not just to suffer the loss of a dear child, but the loss of your own life in many ways as well. 

In Luke’s account of this encounter between Jesus and the widow of Nain, the widow is attributed no words of her own. The crowd together marveled and glorified God declaring he “has come to help his people” (vs. 16) after the deceased young man is given life again, but the widow is without an individual voice. She did not call out to Jesus as He approached the town, she did not plead with Him for a miracle, or profess her faith in His power to heal. Jesus came to her aside from any single action on her part. When things seemed darkest for this nameless woman, when she was at her most powerless, that is when He made His way to her. Not because she asked. Not because she believed. But because Jesus saw her and had compassion.

For death cannot swallow our hope nor any grave hide the true, glorious light that is Jesus.

Where the end seemed inevitable, the outcome decided, hope met the widow unexpectedly; Jesus entered her story. 

We meet her in the midst of the unknown, on the cusp of a miracle. We are privy to but a moment, a moment where grace intercedes and the brilliance of God’s kingdom shines through. We get to see the widow’s story in light of not only what was lost, but what was restored at the hands of a merciful Christ. For death cannot swallow our hope nor any grave hide the true, glorious light that is Jesus. 

And it is that True Light that pursues you even now. Jesus seeks to meet us in the midst of the pain we carry today. Whatever it may be, it is not too much for Him. It is not too dark or unclean. He will not turn away from you. He will dare to rest his hand on your sorrow and meet your gaze with hope. He longs to give you life. His life. His resurrection is yours.

 
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Robin Zastrow wants to live in a world where coffee never gets cold and kindness abounds. When she's not discovering the wonders of construction paper and cardboard tubes with her two little ones, you can find her sneaking in another few pages of a book or jotting down bits of writing on scraps of paper.

One of her favorite Scriptures is:“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22 ESV